Mbulelo Mpofu, Showbiz Reporter
IF ever there is a feminine individual who personifies the word “high roller” in Zimbabwe that would be Bubi-born businesswoman Zodwa “Zozo” Mnkandla with her recent 50th birthday party in Cape Town being just a drop in the sea.
Last week, Zozo celebrated her Golden Jubilee in style with her entourage, the “Rich Cousins” and media personalities including South African artiste, DJ Tira and local hip-hop star, Stunner also gracing the event in the Mother City.
Zozo’s story epitomises the rags-to-riches story as she grew up in unfavourable conditions in rural Bubi district in Matabeleland North.
Her business trajectory from just being a mere receptionist for a prominent travel consultant in the country to owning Traverze, a leisure, and business travel company is the stuff of dreams for many.
So, who is Zozo and what makes her tick? Was she always a big spender her whole life?
Speaking to South African socialite Tebogo Thobejane on the City Girl’s podcast after her birthday celebrations this week, Zozo said she worked her way to the top.
“Growing up in the village as a young Xhosa girl taught me a lot of things. I went to primary school in the village and only went to town when I was a teenager. I know how it feels to have and not to have. I know what it’s like to work hard.
“I’m an example of a girl who grew up in the village and was brought up by an uncle, but still managed to be the woman that I am today.”
Growing up, Zozo had always wanted to be a teacher until her father introduced her to the late former diplomat Nelson Samkange who raised her.
She had always wanted to make something of her life and prove a point that backgrounds do not define one’s destiny.
“I was raised by my uncle, not my biological parents. My uncle who was an ambassador was privileged to travel all over Africa as a diplomat working for the ministry of foreign affairs. When they left the country, I remained staying with relatives that had children that were more intelligent and privileged than me.
This challenged me and I grew up as a person that wanted to attain more in life. I told myself I would never be anything less than what my relatives were as most people always looked down on me and no one thought I was going to be something in life.”
Following her interactions with Samkange, Zozo knew she wanted to follow his path and venture into the tourism industry and that is how her journey began.
“I told myself that I was going to be the woman that would make it in life. I would excel. Now, I own a travel agency in Zimbabwe and other businesses and I’m a leader in those spheres. I mentor quite a lot of young ladies who look up to me and those who want to be successful in their businesses as well. It’s been and still is a journey but failure is not an option for me,” she said.
She attended the International Air Transport Association (IATA) form where she holds a Diploma.
In 2003, she established Traverze Travel and since then, she has never looked back. Her business acuity has seen her being awarded a Women4Africa award for International Business Woman of the year.
In a typical iron sharpens iron scenario, the “self-dependent” Zozo met the late prominent businessman and millionaire, Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure and the two would become an item after being friends for over three years.
Their love was characterised by extravagant spending sprees including their first trip together being from Durban to Cape Town on a cruise ship, just the two of them. They went on a Thursday and disembarked on a Sunday.
“Genius proposed to me during a vacation in Italy and I said yes. I knew Ginimbi as someone with a brain of a 60-year-old man, but not a player. People would talk about him being a player but to me, he was a good person. He loved and cared for me. He never displayed those stupid things in front of me.
“I concentrated on us as a couple not what people told me because I believe you must catch someone red-handed, of which I didn’t.”
Quashing the rumours of Ginimbi having a snake that he used to get riches, Zozo said: “I lived with that man (Ginimbi) for 10 years. I never saw a snake. Ginimbi did not buy a coffin for himself before his death. That coffin was bought by Honourable Minister Tino Machakaire after Ginimbi died.
“It is taboo in our culture to buy a coffin before you pass on. If Ginimbi did witchcraft, then it means that I also did witchcraft.
Genius knew God and sometimes attended church. That boy worked very hard for what he had,” she added.
Even though she confirmed accumulating wealth with Ginimbi, she did not get anything from Ginimbi’s estate.
“I didn’t need anything because I got my own things,” she said.
Zozo said Ginimbi’s wealth and business endeavours are in capable hands of his family and she only intervenes when called upon for legal advice and other things as she is still close to the family.
After Ginimbi, Zodwa has not been seeing anyone.
“I’m looking for stability and pray that God one of these days gives me Mr Man. I don’t like them handsome. I like them tall dark and ugly, that’s what I love. There’s not a lot of those that’s why Ginimbi was a rare person,” said Zozo adding that age is nothing but a number.
The extravagant Zozo refused the title of “millionaire” but cited comfort in her space.
“I don’t have to have a man or beg a man to give me the lifestyle that I need because I’m able and have friends who are able too.
The company that you keep is the company that makes you. If you keep a company of low life people, you’re going to be a low life. If you surround yourself with people that work hard for their own money, you’re going to do that yourself.
“But if you surround yourself with girls that are going to be sleeping around with boys for money, that’s who you’re going to be. You’re going to be changing men everyday like underwear, moving from one household to the other,” warned Zozo.
Zozo is the leader of the famous “Rich Cousins”, a group of like-minded individuals who share Zozo’s vision.
The group pledged to build a school dedicated to Zozo’s newly-established “Zodwa’s 50 for 50 Foundation.”
She is a mother to two daughters Mellissa and Precious from a previous marriage before her customary union with Ginimbi. Even at 50, Zodwa seems to be in adolescent form as she runs 15km every day.
This, she said, has also been due to “keeping her legs closed”.
“Not many girls these days at the age of 30 will look as good as I look at the age of 50. These days by the age 21, they would have slept with more than 50 people, for what? The more you open them (legs), the more you age. If you don’t respect yourself as a woman, you cannot expect somebody else’s son to respect you.”
As a parting shot, Zozo had some free advice for slay queens.
“These slay queens think that men love them because they’re beautiful. They don’t love you, they just admire you for that moment and once they sleep with you, they’re gone to the next best one. Beautiful girls are being born every day. They (slay queens) must not lie to themselves that they’re more beautiful than the next girl. Intelligence, brain and working hard are what’s important. The girl child must work very hard for what they want and get their own money. Don’t depend on men for anything,” she said.
She said there is no harm in having men assist women but women should work towards being financially independent.
“Men come and go. I had Ginimbi in my life, but he’s gone. If I relied on him for everything, where would I be today? I’d have gone back to the village.” – @eMKlass_49
Article Source: The Chronicle